Detailed Itinerary (or download a PDF copy here)
• Day 1 (Sunday, September 20)
We meet at our hotel near the airport of Toulouse and head south and east. Soon we stop at the massive fortress of Salses for a visit. After a peek at sunny Pérpignan, we come to the perfect French fishing village of Collioure and settle into our hotel. Come along for a stroll and a WELCOME APERITIF, followed by DINNER.OVERNIGHT COLLIOURE
• Day 2 (Monday, September 21)
Following a morning orientation to our tour, we head to the old town of Elne (hilltop cathedral and cloisters sheltering some of France's best Romanesque carvings). Look closely and you'll see Adam and Eve! In the afternoon, we visit the wine town of Banyuls, with its large pleasure boat harbor, followed by the lively fishing port of Port-Vendres. Returning to Collioure, we have free time – perhaps you'll want to follow the signposted walk that commemorates the many 19th century artists who painted scenes of the village. LUNCH. OVERNIGHT – COLLIOURE
• Day 3 (Tuesday, September 22)
Today we explore part of the Pyrénées Mountains and the spa country around Céret – a part of France called Roussillon. Céret is a farming (early cherries) and arts-and-crafts center with a lively, modern art museum (ceramics by Picasso). After a delicious LUNCH in Ceret, we explore the nearby Fou Gorge, a deep chasm in the Pyrénées foothills, accessed via catwalks high above a rushing stream. Late in the day we return to Collioure. If you wish, visit the town château. OVERNIGHT – COLLIOURE
• Day 4 (Wednesday, September 23)
We leave Collioure today, but not before spending an hour in its colorful weekly market, just outside our hotel, where we shop for a picnic. By 11 a.m. we are on the road, headed north. Soon we have arrived at one of the most beautiful villages of France, Castelnou. After our picnic lunch and a peek at the adorable village, we arrive in the pretty town of Narbonne, founded by the Romans. Here we find an archeological museum possessing one of the finest collections of Roman paintings in France. OVERNIGHT – NARBONNE
• Day 5 (Thursday, September 24)
On a day trip out of Narbonne, we first visit the winery of Noilly Prat, maker of fine Vermouths.Then it's on to delightful Pézenas, a medieval town where we find authentic southern French architecture and LUNCH at a fine restaurant. Leter, after free time in Pézenas, we return to Narbonne or, if time allows, stop off in historic Béziers, whose cathedral figures prominently in the crusade against the Cathars. OVERNIGHT – NARBONNE
• Day 6 (Friday, September 25)
Leaving Narbonne, we first visit the Abbey of Fontfroide, a magnificently sited religious retreat dating from 1093. From here we make our way along the scenic Canal du Midi, passing through the pretty town of Trebes, and so arrive at the fabled, walled city of Carcassonne. OVERNIGHT – CARCASSONNE
• Day 7 (Saturday, September 26)
We spend today in Carcassonne, absorbing its medieval ambiance. There is a château to visit and shops, wine tasting and the magnificent city walls – some of Europe's finest. At mid-day we pause for LUNCH at an outdoor restaurant. OVERNIGHT – CARCASSONNE
• Day 8 (Sunday, September 27)
On a day trip out of Carcassonne, we first visit Mirepoix, officially classed as among France's most beautiful villages. Its half-timbered center shelters an amazing ensemble of 12th-century buildings. Later we arrive at Limoux, a pretty spot with an arcaded square and the center of a vast wine region. The vintners of Limoux claim to have invented sparkling wine long before the winemakers of Champagne. Back in Carcassonne, we relax or visit the ancient town as dusk settles over the walls. DINNER tonight in old Carcassonne. OVERNIGHT – CARCASSONNE
• Day 9 (Monday, September 28)
Today we leave Carcassonne, but not before taking a boat ride on the Canal du Midi. Then we head north into the forested mountain range called the Montagne Noire. Crossing this upland, we come to the village of Lautrec, also on the list of France's most beautiful. Finally we arrive at the handsome, red-brick town of Albi and orient ourselves with a walking tour of the old center. DINNER in Albi tonight. OVERNIGHT – ALBI
• Day 10 (Tuesday, September 29)
Albi is a joy to explore, with a warren of pedestrian streets lined with pretty buildings, a picturesque riverside setting and two magnificent monuments. The cathedral is a soaring brick monstrosity, looking more like a dungeon than a church, for good reason: when built in 1282 it was designed as a fortress to symbolize the power of the Catholic Church over the oft-rebellious citizens of Albi. Nearby is the Toulouse-Lautrec Museum (he was born in Albi), with dozens of skilled works by the artist and others. Late in the day, let's take a boat ride on the Tarn River. OVERNIGHT – ALBI
• Day 11 (Wednesday, September 30)
We climb to the nearby village of Cordes-sur-Ciel today and get to know this hilltop gem, one of France's most beautiful villages. In Cordes, enjoy the remarkable site, atop a rocky outcrop overlooking the valley of the Cérou River. Visit the fine old mansion called the Maison du Grand Fauconnier, with its museum dedicated to the works of artist Yves-Brayer. You also may want to see a most unusual museum, the Musée de l'Art du Sucre, in which works of art made entirely of sugar are displayed in glass cases. In the afternoon, if time allows, we can visit the nearby town of Castres, with its Musée Goya, featuring a fine collection of paintings by top Spanish artists (Goya, Velásquez, Murillo, Zurburán and others). OVERNIGHT – ALBI
• Day 12 (Thursday, October 1)
From Albi we loop back toward Toulouse and its airport. Along the way are two exceptionally pretty villages – Bruniquel, under a brooding château, and St. Antonin-Noble-Val, lying at the base of a sheer wall of white rock. We also enjoy an magnificent AU REVOIR LUNCH at a fine country restaurant. Finally, at day's end, we arrive at the Toulouse Airport. OVERNIGHT – TOULOUSE AIRPORT
• Getaway day (Friday, October 2)
It's time to say au revoir to Languedoc with a flight home from Toulouse.
MEALS Tour includes breakfast every day, as well as nine other meals (lunches and dinners), as indicated in BOLD CAPS on the itinerary.
Hôtel la Frégate, Collioure
Hôtel la Résidence, Narbonne
Hôtel Mercure, Carcassonne
Hôstellerie St. Antoine, Albi
Holiday Inn, Toulouse Airport
HOTELS AND RESTAURANTS listed are subject to availability.
ITINERARY Details of this preliminary itinerary could change. A final itinerary will be issued closer to trip departure.
SIGHTSEEING All sightseeing listed in itinerary is included as part of the tour.
* TOUR PRICE of $4,295 per person may change if there is a significant decline in the value of the U.S. dollar vs. the euro. Ask us for details.